A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown  at sacred-texts.com
hos 8:1PROPHECY OF THE IRRUPTION OF THE ASSYRIANS, IN PUNISHMENT FOR ISRAEL'S APOSTASY, IDOLATRY, AND SETTING UP OF KINGS WITHOUT GOD'S SANCTION. (Hos 8:1-14)
In Hos 8:14, Judah is said to multiply fenced cities; and in Hos 8:7-9, Israel, to its great hurt, is said to have gone up to Assyria for help. This answers best to the reign of Menahem. For it was then that Uzziah of Judah, his contemporary, built fenced cities (Ch2 26:6, Ch2 26:9-10). Then also Israel turned to Assyria and had to pay for their sinful folly a thousand talents of silver (Kg2 15:19) [MAURER].
Set the trumpet, &c.--to give warning of the approach of the enemy: "To thy palate (that is, 'mouth,' Job 31:30, Margin) the trumpet"; the abruptness of expression indicates the suddenness of the attack. So Hos 5:8.
as . . . eagle--the Assyrian (Deu 28:49; Jer 48:40; Hab 1:8).
against . . . house of . . . Lord--not the temple, but Israel viewed as the family of God (Hos 9:15; Num 12:7; Zac 9:8; Heb 3:2; Ti1 3:15; Pe1 4:17).
hos 8:2My God, we know thee--the singular, "My," is used distributively, each one so addressing God. They, in their hour of need, plead their knowledge of God as the covenant-people, while in their acts they acknowledge Him not (compare Mat 7:21-22; Tit 1:16; also Isa 29:13; Jer 7:4). The Hebrew joins "Israel," not as English Version, with "shall cry," but "We, Israel, know thee"; God denies the claim thus urged on the ground of their descent from Israel.
hos 8:3Israel--God repeats the name in opposition to their use of it (Hos 8:2).
the thing that is good--JEROME translates, "God" who is good and doing good (Psa 119:68). He is the chief object rejected, but with Him also all that is good.
the enemy shall pursue him--in just retribution from God.
hos 8:4kings . . . not by me--not with My sanction (Kg1 11:31; Kg1 12:20). Israel set up Jeroboam and his successors, whereas God had appointed the house of David as the rightful kings of the whole nation.
I knew it not--I approved it not (Psa 1:6).
of . . . gold . . . idols-- (Hos 2:8; Hos 13:2).
that they may be cut off--that is, though warned of the consequences of idolatry, as it were with open eyes they rushed on their own destruction. So Jer 27:10, Jer 27:15; Jer 44:8.
hos 8:5hath cast thee off--As the ellipsis of thee is unusual, MAURER translates, "thy calf is abominable." But the antithesis to Hos 8:3 establishes English Version, "Israel hath cast off the thing that is good"; therefore, in just retribution, "thy calf hath cast thee off," that is, is made by God the cause of thy being cast off (Hos 10:15). Jeroboam, during his sojourn in Egypt, saw Apis worshipped at Memphis, and Mnevis at Heliopolis, in the form of an ox; this, and the temple cherubim, suggested the idea of the calves set up at Dan and Beth-el.
how long . . . ere they attain to innocency?--How long will they be incapable of bearing innocency? [MAURER].
hos 8:6from Israel was it--that is, the calf originated with them, not from Me. "It also," as well as their "kings set up" by them, "but not by Me" (Hos 8:4).
hos 8:7sown . . . reap-- (Pro 22:8; Gal 6:7). "Sow . . . wind," that is, to make the vain show of worship, while faith and obedience are wanting [CALVIN]. Rather, to offer senseless supplications to the calves for good harvests (compare Hos 2:8); the result being that God will make them "reap no stalk," that is, "standing corn." Also, the phraseology proverbially means that all their undertakings shall be profitless (Pro 11:29; Ecc 5:16).
the bud--or, "growth."
strangers--foreigners (Hos 7:9).
hos 8:8vessel wherein is no pleasure-- (Psa 41:12; Jer 22:28; Jer 48:38).
hos 8:9gone . . . to Assyria--referring to Menahem's application for Pul's aid in establishing him on the throne (compare Hos 5:13; Hos 7:11). Menahem's name is read in the inscriptions in the southwest palace of Nimrod, as a tributary to the Assyrian king in his eighth year. The dynasty of Pul, or Phalluka, was supplanted at Nineveh by that of Tiglath-pileser, about 768 (or 760) B.C. Semiramis seems to have been Pul's wife, and to have withdrawn to Babylon in 768; and her son, Nabonassar, succeeding after a period of confusion, originated "the era of Nabonassar," 747 B.C. [G. V. SMITH]. Usually foreigners coming to Israel's land were said to "go up"; here it is the reverse, to intimate Israel's sunken state, and Assyria's superiority.
wild ass--a figure of Israel's headstrong perversity in following her own bent (Jer 2:24).
alone by himself--characteristic of Israel in all ages: "lo, the people shall dwell alone" (Num 23:9; compare Job 39:5-8).
hired lovers--reversing the ordinary way, namely, that lovers should hire her (Eze 16:33-34).
hos 8:10will I gather them--namely, the nations (Assyria, &c.) against Israel, instead of their assisting her as she had wished (Eze 16:37).
a little--rather, "in a little" [HENDERSON]. English Version gives good sense: They shall sorrow "a little" at the imposition of the tribute; God suspended yet the great judgment, namely, their deportation by Assyria.
the burden of the king of princes--the tribute imposed on Israel (under Menahem) by the Assyrian king Pul, (Kg2 15:19-22), who had many "princes" under his sway (Isa 10:8).
hos 8:11God in righteous retribution gives them up to their own way; the sin becomes its own punishment (Pro 1:31).
many altars--in opposition to God's law (Deu 12:5-6, Deu 12:13-14).
to sin . . . to sin--Their altars which were "sin" (whatever religious intentions they might plead) should be treated as such, and be the source of their punishment (Kg1 12:30; Kg1 13:34).
hos 8:12great things of . . . law-- (Deu 4:6, Deu 4:8; Psa 19:8; Psa 119:18, Psa 119:72; Psa 147:19-20). MAURER not so well translates, "the many things of My law."
my law--as opposed to their inventions. This reference of Hosea to the Pentateuch alone is against the theory that some earlier written prophecies have not come down to us.
strange thing--as if a thing with which they had nothing to do.
hos 8:13sacrifices of mine offerings--that is, which they offer to Me.
eat it--Their own carnal gratification is the object which they seek, not My honor.
now--that is, "speedily."
shall return to Egypt-- (Hos 9:3, Hos 9:6; Hos 11:11). The same threat as in Deu 28:68. They fled thither to escape from the Assyrians (compare as to Judah, Jer. 42:1-44:30), when these latter had overthrown their nation. But see on Hos 9:3.
hos 8:14forgotten . . . Maker-- (Deu 32:18).
Judah . . . fenced cities--Judah, though less idolatrous than Israel, betrayed lack of faith in Jehovah by trusting more to its fenced cities than to Him; instead of making peace with God, Judah multiplied human defenses (Isa 22:8; Jer 5:17; Mic 5:10-11).
I will send . . . fire upon . . . cities--Sennacherib burned all Judah's fenced cities except Jerusalem (Kg2 18:13).
palaces thereof--namely, of the land. Compare as to Jerusalem, Jer 17:27.